Kathmandu, the largest capital city in Nepal, is like no other city. The city's hustle and bustle is no longer an amusement to many of us. The overcrowded metropolitan is now home to more than 3 million inhabitants, and it is mainly famous for its exquisite monuments, sculptures, artistic temples, and magnificent artworks.
The decaying constructions in the heart of Kathmandu are a stark contrast to the lively atmosphere that permeates the streets. The smells of incense wafts from stores while street sellers push their Cart are some feelings that you will not get while visiting other places. It is undoubtedly a photographer's paradise-the street, culture, temple, shrines, Newari culture, and everything about Kathmandu offers photography opportunities at every bend. Besides that, there are many intriguing facts about Kathmandu.
A chaotic, small, and beautiful city Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal. The city is also a gateway to the Giant Mount. Everest and other Himalayas. The busy and small city offers rich culture, tradition, language, architecture, history, food, and so many things. The people of Kathmandu always welcome their guests with big smiles on their faces. All the visiting sites nearby Kathmandu are world-renowned religious sites, enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The whole day tour covers the different Kathmandu visiting places. They are; Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swayambhunath Stupa, and Boudhanath Stupa.
Kathmandu Sightseeing is especially suitable for family tours, religious tours, and others who are enthusiastic about Nepal's classical sites. It is one-day sightseeing activity in Kathmandu, we can extend the days as per our valued customers' requirements. Because Kathmandu includes lots of tourist destinations.
The Kathmandu city sightseeing tour begins after having breakfast. It starts at around 9 am in the morning. Our tourist guide with a private vehicle picks you up from the hotel where you stayed.
Your sightseeing in Kathmandu begins from Kathmandu Durbar Square. It is located nearby Thamel. This place seems a bit crowded when compared to other Kathmandu sightseeing places. But the carving monuments amaze you very surprisingly. A Taleju Temple, Hanuman Dhoka, and the living goddess Kumari are the main things to see in Kathmandu Durbar Square.
After spending some time there, you will go to Swayambhunath Stupa. You will see the people chanting mantras and touching prayer wheels.
After clicking some snapshots, you will have a drive directly towards Bouddhanath Stupa. It is a Tibetan-influenced monastery. You may find peace and calm in this place. You can see the people in Tibetan dress meditating in front of the great stupa. It is a popular place for Thanka. So, you can buy it if you want. Having lunch on a rooftop in front of the Boudhanath stupa is wonderful.
Finally, you will have a visit to Pashupatinath Temple. It is a Kathmandu main attraction, popular for Hindu pilgrimage. You will enter the place from the eastern side of the temple territory. You will observe the cremation activities nearby the sacred Bagmati River. Almost a 10-minute hike offers the whole Pashupatinath Temple area including jungle, river, monuments, and ghat.
Kathmandu's full-day sightseeing tour is guided by expert tour guides in a private vehicle. We strongly commit to you that we provide a culturally knowledgeable tour guide to make you clear about the Kathmandu sightseeing places. Join Rising Adventure Pvt. Ltd. to get cultural and religious wonders during the sightseeing tour.
Places to visit in Kathmandu;
Let's unravel some places in Kathmandu where you can create unforgettable moments in life. Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Bouddhanath, Rani Pokhari, and Pashupatinath are some major attractions of Kathmandu. Every year thousands of Pilgrimage visit Nepal to explore these heritage sites in Kathmandu.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square is regarded as one of the most crowded and loved places by visitors. The UNESCO world heritage listed it back in 1979. It is one of the golden pride of Kathmandu Valley. This was the residence of the Royal Nepalese family until the 19th century when the coronation of the Nepalese monarch took place. It is situated in the heart of Kathmandu City near the tourist spot Thamel. Surrounded by spectacular architecture and crafts for several centuries, it is said to be the living museum of temples. Most of the buildings, temples, art, and sculptures were made from the ancient to the medieval period dating from the 15th to 18th centuries. Thus, to see such monuments, thousands of people come to Nepal yearly.
In front of Kathmandu Durbar Square, there is a big sculpture of Hanuman who is the devotee of Lord Ram. It is the key attraction of this place. As a result, it is named Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square.
Kumari Ghar is the major attraction of Kathmandu Durbar Square where the living goddess stays. So, it is also known as the House of living goddess. She is worshipped by both Nepalese Hindus and Buddhists. She is so pretty and beautiful. It is believed that she is the incarnation of the goddess Durga.
Other interesting things about this palace territory are Kastamandap, Taleju Temple, Kaal Bhairav, Shiva Parbati Temple, Mahadev Temple, the big bell, the museum, and others. However, most of the buildings are devastated by the earthquake of April 2015. Some of them are already renovated and some are in the renovation process. So, tourists are allowed to visit some of the places only.
The inner part of the Kathmandu Durbar Square contains the old palace area that is divided into different courtyards such as Mul Chowk, Nakxal Chowk, and Basantapur Durbar as well as other beautiful art and shrines.
Festivals like Gaijatra, Indrajatra, Machchhindranath Jatra, Dashain, and some other Newari Festivals are used to hold on the ground of Kathmandu Durbar Square. The history behind the construction of this palace is amazing.
Kumari House and Its Culture
While visiting Kathmandu Durbar Square, you will see a Kumari Chowk at the southern end of Durbar Square. The gilded cage contains the Raj Kumari, a girl selected through an ancient and mystical selection process. It is chosen to become the human incarnation of the Hindu mother goddess, Durga.
Nepal is predominantly a Hindu country but with a significant Buddhist population. The two religions have coexisted and intermingled for centuries. They share priests and temples, and they both worship the Kumari. Kumari is an incarnation of goddess Taleju, also known as Durga.
She is confined in the temple and has little contact outside. She rarely goes out in public. When she goes out, her feet must not touch the ground in order to preserve her godliness. In addition, she is not allowed to talk to anyone outside her family as long as she is a living goddess.
However, the living goddess takes a tour of the city during the festival of Indra Jatra. During these festivals, Kumari is carried around from place to place in her chariot. Likewise, she also makes public appearances during a few other festivals; otherwise, her devotees can worship and visit her for a fee paid to her guards. They said that if Kumari refuses to let you worship her, doom is upon you.
How is Kumari selected?
The goddess is selected between the age of four and five. Her body must be flawless and show no fear when confronted with terrifying demons. If her horoscope is in harmony with the king, she will live in a unique house until she reaches womanhood. The Kumari is selected in the presence of the chief priest of Taleju Bhawani, the kumari house's caretaker, and the astrologer's head. They check on the various aspects of a child before declaring her a new living goddess.
First, she comes from the Shakya family; whereas, other kumaris' in the valley, except for the royal Kumari, may also include a girl from the Bhajracharya family, and the members including all three generations should be within the same cast as well. Other basic requirements include sound health, eyes, and blemish body skin. Also, she should not have shed a single drop of blood prior, and she must not lose any of her teeth.
Once she meets all the basic requirements. The priest examines her to match Battis Lakshana, which means 32 perfections of a goddess in the Hindu religion. Some perfections are from her physical appearance, which includes a neck like a conch shell, chest like a lion, thighs like a deer, body like a banyan tree, and eyelashes like a cow. Furthermore, they look at her horoscope to make it complementary to that of the king or president.
If she meets every single quality, they take her to another test. In this test, she has to walk through the courtyard filled with beheaded animals and dancing masked men. The selected girl should cross the courtyard without being afraid. In case if she gets scared, she is disqualified. Next, she should spend the night alone in a room slaughtered goats and buffaloes. But some believe that being kept in a room of slaughtered animals and walking through the beheaded animals is not 100 percent true because nobody actually knows what happens inside the room. As the Kumaris themself are too small to remember their selection process. Also, the room part is hidden, and only the priest knows about it; however, many believe she is the embodiment of blood-loving Durga. Thus, she is only shown some animal blood by the masked men to check how she reacts.
Finally, after completing all the tasks mentioned above, including that hidden room, she has asked to pick up the goods of the previous goddess. While picking, if she picks them correctly, among other goods, she is the new living goddess of Nepal. Then, the newly selected Kumari is sanctified, and the priest performs tantric rituals to cleanse her body from blemishes and impurities. After that, the goddess Taleju is believed to enter; they now present the girl as the living goddess Kumari and shift her to Kumari Ghar. Also, only the royal Kumari is shifted to Durbar Square, while others living in the valley live in their own home following some sort of rituals.
The Holy Temple, Pashupatinath lies in the eastern part of Kathmandu on the bank of the Bagmati River. It is the greatest Hindu Temple in Nepal. Lord Shiva is the main deity of this temple. He is also known as the god of destruction according to the Hindu religion. He is a very powerful god.
While talking about the physical structure of Pashupatinath Temple, it is built in the pagoda style which has four silver doors, a golden roof, and wood carving. The stone sculpture is superb. This temple is surrounded by almost 15 shrines of Lord Shiva known as Shivalaya, 452 temples, 12 phallic shrines meaning jyotirlinga, and some Buddhist deities as well.
Guheswori Temple is also located in this Pashupatinath area. It is the temple of Lord Shiva’s consort. It is also taken as the Shakti Peeth. Foreigners are not allowed to go inside this temple.
There is a cremation area as well in the Pashupatinath territory. The platform is located just above the bank of the Bagmati River. It is a sacred river in accordance with Hinduism as every ritual works happen there.
Pashupatinath Temple is enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.’Only the Hindu people are permitted to enter the Pashupatinath temple area from the front entrance gate while others need to go from the entrance of the back side and watch temples from the viewpoint only.
Shivaratri is the Hindu festival which means the night of Lord Shiva. It is celebrated all over Nepal and more importantly at Pashupatinath. On this day, the temple area is crowded with Hindu Pilgrimage. They are not Nepalese only but, Indian as well. The queue of Worshippers is beyond our imagination who come to stand in the line from the mid-night of the previous day because only on this day, Pashupatinath Temple doors do open, and the Pilgrimage gets the chance to go inside, worship Lord Shiva by their own hands, and take his blessing of him.
Generally, Sadhu with printed faces and yellow dresses can be found in this Pashupatinath area. But, on the occasion of Shivaratri, a variety of Saints can be seen there even the naked Sadhu who are enjoying by taking drugs. However, they are very friendly and click the photos with visitors with some non-fix charge.
Shrawan is Nepali month. During this period also the doors of Pashupatinath opened and Hindu visitors are allowed to go inside for worshipping the god. Most of the people engage in the Bol-Bom ( a type of holy work) wear yellow dresses and come to Pashupatinath Temple by walking for more than a week even from India.
Who can be the priest of Pashupatinath?
For many years the Pashupatinath temple has had a Bhatt priest. Currently, there are four Bhatt priests who are only allowed to touch the ling. They perform the daily ritual and are south Indians which Raj Gurus of the temples choose. Meanwhile, Rajbhandaris are helpers and temple caretakers who are not qualified to perform puja rituals.
Priests are selected from a group of scholars educated by Shri Shankaracharya Dakshinamnaya Peeth Sringeri on Rig Vedic recitation. In the beginning, the selected candidates were sent to learn Pashupata Yoga, Shiva Āgama, and learned recitation of Samaveda from Haridwar. After completing all of these criteria, Raj Guru of Pashupatinath Temple selects the priest for the priesthood. Further, they undergo a strict examination of Vedas and Shiva Agamas.
Western Cremation Ghats
Despite being clogged with garbage and black with pollution, the fetid Bagmati River is highly sacred. Pashupatinath is the Nepali equivalent of Varanasi on the sacred River Gangas. As a result, the Brahmins conduct cremations in this region.
At the northern end of the ghats, there are yogis' caves. Yogi has used those caves as a shelter since medieval times for meditation and is still occupied by meditators today. Furthermore, walking along the bank, you will find the 7th-century Buddha statue next to the Raj Rajeshwari temple.
This stupa is more popular for Swayambhunath Monkey Temple. It is situated on the top of a hill on the northwest side of Kathmandu Valley. This site is full of many Buddhist stupas 2000 years old. As a result, it is popular, especially for the Buddhist Pilgrimage.
However, Hindus have also got the attraction to the Swayambhunath Stupa as the temple of Haratimata is situated there. This goddess is considered a Hindu deity who is also known as the goddess of children. Every Saturday, most Hindu parents with their kids come to worship this goddess for taking care of the life of their children.
While talking about the physical structure of Swayambhunath Stupa, its base is surrounded by prayer wheels. The largest image of the Shakyamuni Buddha is located on the pedestal on the western side of the very site.
Other statues, Buddhist shrines, Chaityas, and some Hindu deities are established there from the bottom to the top of the hill. There is a small pond as well. In the middle of it, the water sprays, and a small hole is also there where a visitor used to throw the coins. If the coins reach inside the hole, it is used to say that s/he is lucky.
In order to reach the hill of the Swayambhunath Stupa, there are two access points. One of them is a roadway around the hill and the last one is the stairway. This stair is too long with 365 steps that go through the green forest.
Besides, the top of this site is considered the vantage point for looking at the beautiful views of the Kathmandu Valley. It is the place where the ability of peace and harmony can be developed. Besides, this site is the topmost pride of Kathmandu.
Once upon a time, there was a lotus which is bloomed in the middle of the lake and spread across the Kathmandu Valley. Later on, it is named as the Swayambhu. This is a typical legend behind the creation of the Swayambhunath Stupa.
At last, Swayambhunath Stupa is enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is full of monkeys. Therefore, the site is also known as the Monkey Temple. Everywhere, the monkeys are spread here and there. They also cheat on the visitors’ food and bags, especially the banana. So, the tourist must be aware of it and not try to tease them and take their things very safely and carefully.
Boudhanath Stupa is one of the best places to visit in Kathmandu. The ancient Bouddhanath Stupa was devastated by the earthquake of 2015, April. The renovation is completed now and this new structure is taken as one of the largest Tibetan stupas in Nepal. It is enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Site too.
The greatest Bouddhanath Stupa is located in the northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu Valley. It is surrounded by Tibetan settlements. The site is popular for the Thanka production as well.
Bouddhanath Stupa looks very beautiful in its spherical structure. The site is also taken as the center point of Tibetan culture in Nepal. Most Buddhist visitors especially from Tibet and China are used to staying at the hotel nearby this stupa and engaging in meditation activities.
Bouddhanath Stupa is rich in Buddhist symbolism. They are following in chronological order from bottom to top;
- Three Steps
- Two Plinths
- Symbol of Nose
- Eight Eyes on the four sides of the Stupa
- Thirteen Steps
- Five different colors of prayer flags cover the stupa from top to bottom
Each of the very symbols represents different meanings relating to the Buddhist religion. Please, read here for more details.
Royal Museum is also known as Narayanhiti Palace Museum. It is one of the best places to visit in Kathmandu.
It is well known that the Royal family of Nepal used to live in Narayanhiti Palace. After ten years of the Nepalese Citizen War and the nineteen days of People, movements changed the history of Nepal. That war had thrown the Shah Dynasty's reign and established a new history.
After the inauguration on 26 February 2009, this Narayanhiti Palace Museum was opened to all general people including foreign travelers. Now, the Niji Ghar Royal Museum is also open.
A visit to the Royal Museum provides knowledge of the living standards of our Late King. The Royal Massacre spot is the main attraction of this Palace. You can observe the place where our Late king Birendra Bir Bikram Shah's family was killed.
Besides, you can explore lots of beautiful places and wonderful things inside this museum. They are;
- The Golden State Coach
- Kaski Baithak
- The Royal Crown
- Gorkha Baithak
- Museum Garden
- Shree Sadan
- Royal Massacre Spot`
Note: If our valued guests require sightseeing in Patan and Bhaktapur Durbar Squares too, we can manage it within the same day or the next day as per your requirements.